As a licensed social service nonprofit serving foster children, Bloom Our Youth (“Bloom”) is considered an essential service during the COVID-19 crisis and is experiencing an increase in calls from county DFCS offices looking for homes to take in children.
Just last week, Bloom received 53 calls for the placement of children into their foster homes, a 40 percent increase from the previous month.
Bloom Executive Director Becky Davenport comments, “Whether the increase in calls is the result of the current stress in people’s lives or a statistical anomaly remains to be seen. Our social workers are currently working from home to ensure Bloom foster families are supported during this extremely difficult time and that children in their care are safe.”
The Bloom Closet, a resource center that last year supplied 4,500 Georgia foster children with clothing and supplies, is receiving calls from foster families all across the state who are accepting children into their homes under the most trying of times. With stores closing and many communities on lockdown, it is difficult to provide for these children’s basic needs such as clothing, diapers, food, and other essentials. Children often arrive into foster care with nothing but the clothes on their backs. During the COVID-19 crisis, The Bloom Closet has become a key support for foster children coming into care and is currently providing free essentials to approximately 85-100 foster children per week.
“Normally, when children shop at The Bloom Closet, we give them a personalized experience so they can pick out their own clothing and will know how special they are and will feel safe,” Davenport says. “For the time being, for everyone’s safety, we have had to change that. Right now, our staff takes orders from foster parents for the things their kids need, we pack up bags, and foster families pick up items outside our building.” Davenport states that they are also delivering supplies to private foster care agencies as well as county DFCS offices.
In the midst of facing the increased need for their services from their constituents, Bloom has also had to face the additional challenge of the postponement of their Bloom Ball gala, their single largest source of fundraising income, which was supposed to take place on March 28th. Davenport states, “Like so many other nonprofits in our community who have had to cancel their fundraising events, this potential loss will hit us hard, We have re-scheduled the Bloom Ball for June 20th and are hoping for the best. The reality is we don’t know if we will ever re-coup that loss of income.”
Due to the current Shelter-in-Place directive from Governor Kemp, Bloom has temporarily restricted operations of its Volunteer & Donation Center located at 115 Marquis Dr. in Fayetteville and is asking donors to hold on to donations of children’s clothing and supplies until April 13.
Items that are particularly needed are gently used, clean children’s clothing from baby through teen sizes, diapers, and full-size children’s toiletries. Puzzles, games, toys and educational supplies are also much-needed during this time when families are sheltering in place. Please contact the organization at 770-461-7020 for updated information on Covid-19 hours of operation.
For more information, please visit Bloom’s website at www.bloomouryouth.org or call 770-460-6652.
History and Mission – Founded in 1986, Bloom Our Youth (d.b.a. Bloom) is a social service nonprofit serving foster care children and families throughout Georgia. Bloom’s mission to “strengthen children in foster care and empower the families who care for them,” reflects their belief that every child has the right to achieve their personal best, despite their circumstances.
Bloom advocates for foster children and families using the following 3-pronged approach:
The Bloom Closet: The Bloom Closet is open to every foster child with a DFCS referral in Georgia. The Bloom Closet is a fast and direct resource for foster teens, children, and infants to get new or gently used clothing, shoes, toys, toiletries, diapers, baby gear, and educational and school supplies – all at no charge. Under normal conditions, Foster children shop in a fun, boutique-like store, can get a week’s supply of essentials, and can shop on a quarterly basis or when they have a growth spurt.
Bloom Foster Care: Bloom recruits, trains and supports foster families and oversees the placement into their homes of base-level foster children and youth as well as foster children with significant therapeutic issues, medically fragile foster children and pregnant or parenting foster teens.
Bloom University: In order to prepare foster families to care for traumatized children, Bloom University provides monthly classes to equip them with the knowledge, training, and skills needed to address common issues that foster children face.